The Karlovac City Museum’s catalogue for the exhibition ‘Gledam dodirom’ (‘Seeing through Touch’) won 3rd prize in the category of Design of Social Innovations at the 2021 Zagreb Design Week. My English translation is featured in this bilingual edition. The designers are Rašić+Vrabec and the authors are Lana Bede and Tanja Parlov.
As a consequence of the award the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media has purchased copies of the catalogue to be distributed and made available to borrow in libraries throughout the country 🙂 “The catalogue accompanies the inclusive internationally awarded exhibition ‘Gledam dodirom’ (‘Seeing by Touch’). The author’s texts offer a new perspective on fine arts, considering the high cognitive value of the sense of touch in the context of art education and the creation and perception of works of fine art. The emphasis is on the irreplaceable role of the sense of touch in the perception of visually impaired people. The catalogue analyses and valorizes the artistic creativity of visually impaired children. The value of the catalogue is also the text about the creation of the inclusive exhibition by Rašić + Vrabecwho are a world-renowned design studio from Zagreb. They specialise in spatial exhibition design and branding, and approach each project holistically, environmentally and socially responsibly.”
Recenzija prijevoda kandidata Martina Mayhewa za članstvo u DHKP:
„Prijevod je sačinjen uspoređivanjem nekolicine izvornih verzija pripovjedaka. Postoji raniji prijevod izbora Kamovljevih priča…, a još je nekolicina priča objavljenih po književnim časopisima, ali je do sada Kamovljev opus bio relativno slabo dostupan čitateljima iz engleskog govornog područja, pa je ovaj novi prijevod dobrodošao. Kamovljeve se priče odlikuju duhovitošću, senzualnošću i jetkošću i Mayhewov prijevod vrlo uspješno dočarava i humor i ironiju i emotivna stanja autora. Iz njegovih popratnih tekstova vidi se da se prevoditelj sustavno bavio istraživanjem izvornih tekstova i autorova rječnika. Mayhew pokazuje istančan osjećaj za odabir prikladnih riječi i izraza i zorno prenosi čitatelju svoj entuzijazam za Kamova… Recenzent preporučuje prijam kandidata Martina Mayhewa u članstvo Društva hrvatskih književnih prevodilaca.”
The Croatian-Turkish Society of Rijeka was founded on 30th November 1995 with the aim of promoting friendship between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Turkey via a programme of cultural, scientific, sports, economic, religious and social activities – and in March 2021, there was an exhibition on Rijeka’s Korzo that detailed and celebrated this close 25-year friendship. I was honoured to be involved as the English translator for the Hrvatsko-Tursko društvo, Rijeka.
Issue 1005 of the Yugoslav informative weekly VUS – Vjesnik u srijedu (Herald on Wednesday) published in Zagreb on 4th August 1971 contained an interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by the Croatian journalist Konstantin Milles (Miles). This interview has seemingly never been published in English. So, I decided to translate the text as it was printed in VUS. Obviously my translation will not be an exact transcript of the original conversation but I think it provides an interesting insight into Lennon’s thoughts on communism, Yugoslavia, art, politics and of course The Beatles.
Konstantin Milles interviews John Lennon and his no less famous wife Yoko Ono. Lennon now claims that the “communist press” did not make much of a mistake when it previously wrote that the “Beatles were a weapon of capitalism and imperialism” and that he attacked his former colleague Paul McCartney for being a right-winger (read “conservative”) , that George Harrison immersed himself in religious mysticism, and he says that Ringo Starr never knew or understood anything. “I woke up”, Lennon says about himself.
“It be must here!” the driver said to me, turning around in his seat. “This wall looks doubtful!” Shortly before that we had rushed out of the centre of Ascot, about an hour’s drive from London, and now we were driving down a narrow road that meandered through an unusually dense and beautiful forest, with only glimpses of old mansions built like former castles and small country houses. Only the richest residents of London live in this blessed corner of England.
The wall was three metres high, made of stone, at least two kilometres long. When we got to the end of it, I spotted a group of American hippies, standing at the gate and staring “lost” inside. At that moment, I realised two things: that we had indeed reached Lennon (which in the given circumstances had only a practical significance) and that the persistent rumours about the decline of the Beatles’ popularity were not in the least bit true – even though they no longer existed as the Beatles but as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Later, during the conversation, Lennon gave me a very convincing verification of the financial-statistical type, which surprised me a little… because pop music was always something I had never been “in to” to such an extent that it could satisfy any of its ardent admirers.
About three months ago I had sent Lennon a telegram asking to meet up again. I had been to London a few times in the meantime, but we still hadn’t met. I knew why: he had been travelling unusually a lot again lately, and that, unlike in the past, it was due mostly to “private business.” He had been in New York twice to track down Yoko’s son (sic – daughter) with the help of the local private and official police and fabulously expensive lawyers, and to take the boy (sic – girl) back from his (sic – her) father, Yoko’s first husband through the courts, (Yoko later told me that her “dad” was also involved, and when I asked her if it was true that her “dad” was a rather rich Japanese banker, she burst out laughing and said: “Well you see, John can’t complain that he’s poor, but his money is peanuts compared to what my family has in Tokyo. I know it’s not tasteful to talk about it, but, you see, when I was little, I was told at home that there were only three families in all of Japan, apart from the imperial family: the Mitsui, Mitsubishi and my family.” I said: “Then that means that together with the Mitsuis and Mitsubishis, it was, in fact, your family that prepared Japan to enter the Second World War!” Yoko Ono calmly replied: “Yes, that’s right! These have always been the three most powerful families in Japan… something like the Japanese Krupps or Rockefellers… the owners of real empires of banks, companies, industries. It is natural that my family is connected to them anyway, besides business. Let’s say my brother doesn’t work with his father, he works for Mitsubishi.” I couldn’t resist asking her how she got along with “dad” and “mum,” considering what she had “done” and what she was “doing.” She said: “In the beginning, they simply fainted, figuratively speaking. Then they, at least I think so, found a solution that suited them best: they concluded that we were nevertheless a family who could accept everything!”)
The very same glasses
I had a great, almost three-hour-long interview with Lennon in the spring of 1969 in Amsterdam. However, there then came the famous Beatles’ breakup (something he had hinted to me indirectly back in that first interview) and a series of Lennon interviews, mostly with the American hippy press and the most biting trends of the “new left.” I suddenly found Lennon interesting again. All the more so since in several interviews, he had mentioned his great desire to see what was happening in Yugoslavia. We drove through the gate past that group of American hippies. Suddenly a huge white, snow-white or lime-white house appeared in front of us — painted just like the walls of Apple’s building in London’s Saville Row. (I remembered that Lennon had always been fascinated by white.) I walked up to the door and rang the bell. Two minutes passed, but no one appeared. I peeked through the little window by the door. In the room I looked into all that could be seen was a forest of film cameras, spotlights, power cables, ladders – all in a terrible mess. I pressed the bell again, but I didn’t hear its ring. I began to bang on the door, louder and louder. Still no reply. We walked around the house. Through one window on the ground floor, I spotted Lennon and Yoko Ono. They were sitting at a wooden table in a huge kitchen with some unknown people. Music was playing. I knocked on the window, feeling like Santa Claus. Lennon noticed me, put his hands together jokingly as if praying me to do something, and gestured to me to go to the last, fourth side of the house and enter through the door that came out to the garden. There I was greeted by Diana (Vero?), Lennon’s secretary and runner, an attractive and still quite young girl with the look of a typical London “schizo.” A little later we were sitting at that big wooden table in the kitchen (Lennon explained to me that the house was “a real madhouse” because the whole lower part was being converted into a film studio, whereby three rooms would be arranged as the Yoko Ono Personal Museum. At that moment, I remembered that I had completely forgotten the fact that Yoko was a sculptor, but not only that. But, more about that later).
John Lennon is now 30 years old. Nothing much had changed since our last meeting. This claim categorically warrants an explanation. In Amsterdam he had long hair and a beard. Today’s Lennon only has relatively long hair, he is completely shaved, because his beard has disappeared, and quite thoroughly: today not only does he, let’s say, shave with an electric appliance but shaves to such an extent, probably with two or three shaves, that his face is as smooth as a newborn’s bottom. He maintains his sideburns, “typically English” and ginger. The glasses have stayed the same: the “anarchist’s design” from the last century with a thin, totally round metal frame. Through their lenses, the penetrating gaze of two blue eyes greets the interlocutor. The look is most usually suspicious: suspiciousness has probably, and he has had a reason for it, become Lennon’s “second nature.” Jeans and a plain shirt with an unbuttoned collar, close-fitting to a rather well-built, but nevertheless weak body, which, together with the physiognomy, still acts like a dynamo. Just like that, seemingly weak, but full of some inner dynamics, Lennon is actually the image and figure of a young man who is liked by today’s girls (if you can judge by what kind of young men the most beautiful girls go out with in London, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen… in fact, any Western European city – “Tarzans” seem to be simply out of fashion, and the glasses are more of a plus than a minus. Regardless of the fact that in England one of the great “sexual symbols” is Tom Jones, who still, let’s say, looks different, doesn’t he?) Lennon has his own opinion about this, which, admittedly, he expressed indirectly and inadvertently, almost inadvertently in one completely unrelated conversation. When we finished the interview and returned to the mansion from the park that surrounds it (it has the dimensions of Maksimir Park and like Maksimir it has its own large natural lake with reeds), we chatted for a while in the kitchen. Yoko told me how she met the famous Japanese writer who shook the world a few months ago with a failed coup attempt and then his successful hara-kiri. “One evening he was sitting right next to me, but he didn’t say a single word to me, which was just plain rude! He was otherwise a physically very handsome man!” At that moment, Lennon’s voice was heard: “Yeah, he was handsome. He was one of those crazy body-builders. He was in short – a homosexual! A notorious homosexual! I read somewhere that all the forces in the SS troops were like that! The most disgusting reactionaries and fascists were often like that!” Lennon said this calmly, as though the most banal of facts were being stated, but still, I could not escape the impression that not even hara-kiri could have saved the Japanese writer from Lennon’s aversion. An aversion that was not caused by the writer being homosexual, but simply because with his rude behaviour he had neglected the woman Lennon who loved to such an extent that the term “head over heels” is still valid today. It would be difficult for anyone who has not seen Yoko Ono in person to understand that she is actually a very handsome, physically attractive, beautiful young woman, full of that charming kindness that adorns all Japanese women, whether beautiful or ugly. The only misfortune is that – and I told her, and Lennon confirmed it with unusual zeal – that she is simply not photogenic. In every photo, she looks at least ten years older, the glow of her eyes is lost, the colour of her skin is distorted, the refined anatomy of her face is distorted… and millions of readers around the world wonder “what Lennon saw in her.”
Lennon wants to go to Yugoslavia
Whilst Barrie Wentzell arranged his cameras and I slowly set up the tape recorder, we sat and chatted.
“What’s new in Yugoslavia?” Lennon asked me.
“You have no idea how interested we are!” said Yoko.
At first I felt the temptation to simply reply: “Well come, and you’ll see!” Hic Rodhus, hic salta! But at first the main thought that run through my head was that their question was an expression of conventional decency, of attention towards a guest, who is from a small country, to which I am always allergic. Or that their various statements lately about wanting to visit Yugoslavia were in fact just mere affectation. However, I realised that they were both looking at me with serious, calm looks, with the look of someone who has asked an honest and serious question and who wants a serious answer has.
“What’s new, you ask?” Last time, in Amsterdam, I told you about the introduction of self-government in Yugoslavia. This is always new because it’s something in which something new is constantly happening. What is “old”, in a way, is that we want to show that something that no one has achieved so far can be achieved: communism plus personal freedom plus a high standard of living. But, we are not doing it in order to show the world that it is possible. We are doing for ourselves first of all. We’re not asking anyone to learn from us.”
“I have listened and read a lot about what is going on in your country. Yoko and I would be overjoyed if we could visit your country and see everything! So that we can talk to your people, to your students, workers and intellectuals, to tell them about our ideas, to show them our films…”
However later, in a completely different context, I realised that to Lennon some things about Yugoslavia were still not clear, although he sincerely loved Yugoslavia and its efforts (he told me that “strong vibrations” were coming to him from Yugoslavia, which has nothing to do with telepathy, as one might think, but is simply a term used by hippies when talking about someone or something who or what is doing some, most often mental activity that provokes their sympathy. In the broadest sense, “catching someone’s vibrations” means the same thing as “working on the same wavelength” in our jargon) however, some things connected to Yugoslavia are not clear. If everything about Yugoslavia was clear to him, he would certainly not have asked me the absurd question of whether the sale of his record Power to the People was permitted at home!
KM: So, the tape recorder is plugged in, checked and tested. We can start the interview. Please answer me one simple stupid question: “How are you?”
JL: I’m fine. And you?
KM: I’m fine too. However, please explain to me in a little more detail why you are fine.
JL: I understood the essence of your question exactly and I was just kidding. How am I you ask? In the full bliss of creative work! Me and Yoko are working like crazy. I get the impression we don’t have a minute to spare. Well, I just finished a new album (Imagine), which will be released in the autumn, we are finishing a TV film about that album… actually a film about ourselves, about us, Yoko has published a book that we will give you as a gift (Grapefruit) because we care about it a great deal, and two days ago she completed a theatrical piece (Film No. 12 – Up Your Legs Forever?) that will be premièred on Broadway in September. If you come, we’ll get you a ticket, I’m composing, we’re sorting out the house, Yoko’s making statues, which I’m sure you can see…
KM: If we can make an arrangement and you come to Zagreb, perhaps Yoko could organise an exhibition of her works there?
(Afterwards, I toured Yoko’s studio and “museum” in several rooms of the mansion. It is quite certain that an exhibition in Zagreb would be a sensation. And that even visitors who have little to do with art would come too. Due to certain circumstances.)
YO: Absolutely. Only some of your people might not like some of the exhibits! There might be some misunderstandings…
KM: I don’t believe that would discourage you. After all, you’ve already got used to it, here in London. But, you see, my consciously formulated question had one other subtext, so to speak. How emotional you are after everything that happened after our last meeting, particularly in recent times.
JL: We are in full creative bliss. And that, I think, means we’re emotionally excellent, too. Apart from that, I’m as fit as a fiddle.
KM: In many reports about you, in several interviews that you have given, the thought, like a leitmotif permeates, often highlighted in the title, that “the dream is over”, that “the dream has come to an end”, that you have “woken up”… all along those lines. Does that bother you? It’s almost as if the journalists agreed to point it out!
JL: But, that’s right! What happened before – was a dream! It was a youthful, pubescent dream. But, I’m not young any more: I’m thirty, man!
KM: You seem to be happy to talk about that dream!
JL: People think it that was a magical Hollywood dream. A story of four young men who succeeded fantastically. Yes: we had millions of dollars, millions of girls, at every step, after every performance, fame… but it was still a nightmare. Only we didn’t see it then…
KM: As you talk about it, you speak with bitterness. Everywhere, in every place. And you talk about it with some almost masochistic pleasure…
JL: I want to tell people the truth: that the Beatles’ dream was a mere illusion.
KM: Why do you think that?
JL: I realised that the ruling class was exploiting us, abusing us for its own purposes. You see, back then, at that time, we found it funny when the communist press wrote that we were “the tools of capitalism and imperialism.” I see they weren’t so wrong. We didn’t think we were creating revolution…
“We met conceited people”
KM: … and in fact, those who rule, those who hold the money and power, used you for their own purposes…
JL: It’s not so simple. The Establishment (the ruling class…. ) gave us a high medal, took almost all our money, gave us a medal instead of, let’s say, lowering our taxes… the people who we met on our tours were all just bureaucratic and plutocratic “money men”, police chiefs, diplomats, conceited… not real people. It was all so unreal! In the first ten rows at our concerts, there always sat the “money men”, “the fat cats”, their wives and daughters and they rattled with jewellery. In America, we were invited to a reception at the British Embassy and there we were treated like we were trained circus animals, penguins, even the ladies in gowns and their bastards cut off the hair of poor Ringo so that they could boast about it. Do you think that could happen to us in some working-class family in Liverpool, huh? But, nevertheless, it amused us, it was great for us. Now I’ve finally grown up. Now I will no longer allow anyone to exploit me for their own purposes, to fool me…
KM: You realised something more important. You, with your “Beatlemania”, as it was called then, in a way played the role of an “Establishment” tool because you channelled the amassed energy of the young people, the energy of dissatisfaction and protest, into safe and calm waters: long hair, guitar pounding, revolutionary clothing in place of revolutionary activity… And now you see, as you yourself said, that everything has stayed the same, that the same guys have the money and power, whilst others do not…
JL: In essence you’re right, but it’s not so simple. Maybe the “Establishment” thought so, however, we still played the role of a Trojan horse in some sense of the word. We did – and not only us but others too, nevertheless play a role that must be acknowledged – we helped young people to start thinking differently, to “liberate” themselves from the burden and compulsion of tradition, to start thinking more elastically, to start to see some things… Of course, we did wander ourselves… and that’s where I’m talking about myself first of all. Surely you remember: I was taking drugs, I tried to embrace some oriental religion… don’t you see how unhappy, confused, crushed I was by what had happened to me… and how desperately I tried to free myself, and that means to return to reality. At times it seemed to me that I was riding on an express train that was rushing towards a collision, and I couldn’t jump out of it. So, I repeat: we taught young people to start thinking differently.
Conflict at the end of the road
KM: You said that as a young man you were “class conscious”, and then you simply forgot about it…
JL: And who wouldn’t forget that, man?! Well, I was young, practically still snotty, when all of that fell on us. I completely lost my compass, all touch with reality.
KM: And do you think you have it again today?
JL: I think I do have it. I don’t dream any more. I’m no longer in a dream state. I’ve woken up and I think that’s enough… for a start.
KM: Did Yoko open your eyes, can we say that? I’ll try to remember. You The Beatles were actually Establishment pets, “decent kids”, darlings… whereas the Rolling Stones were persecuted!
JL: If you think that Mick Jagger is interested in politics and if they ever interested him – you’re wrong. He was just “performing”… and it was so brutal and vulgar that the Establishment was appalled. You see, let’s take the question of our medals. Okay, they gave them to us, but that’s why they were ignorant. A few months before that, the book Love Me Do was published, a brilliant book, which went unnoticed at first and only became known later. In that book the author published his conversations with me, in which I said clearly how much I hated the Establishment, the Queen, the palace, aristocrats, the “big money men.” If they had read the book, they would never have given me the medal. This way they just gave me a chance to give it back to them at the most convenient time for me.
KM: Derek Taylor (the Beatles’ former press chief) once told me that you were a communist by conviction. Don’t be offended, but I couldn’t believe my ears. And even after that, I couldn’t believe it.
JL:I don’t belong to any party, not even the communist one, but all my sympathies are on the side of communism. I believe in communism as a system to which the future of humanity belongs. Of course, I believe in that real communism… in the one that I believe that you Yugoslavs are trying to create right now.
KM: But, let’s talk a little about the breakup of the Beatles.
JL: We are talking.
KM: You see, when I heard that you’d broken up, I felt sympathy for you. Suddenly it was as if I realised you were an honest, fair guy. Don’t get me wrong, but to kill a goose that lays golden eggs… you know what I mean… So my question would be: Regardless of what was said and written, regardless of the rumours, there must have been something fundamental in that breakup, something more important than a simple personality conflict between you and Paul, a conflict over whether his brother-in-law would become Apple’s director or your man… that there was something fundamental and serious… something connected to art and something maybe connected to politics.
JL: Yeah, you guessed correctly. That’s right. Yeah, it was about politics and art. You see, Paul is simply right-wing (read “conservative”) and that’s it. I couldn’t take it any more, I couldn’t work with him any more. And as for the music, so art, let’s say…
KM: You came to a dead-end as a group, you came, put more precisely, to the end of the road.
JL: Yes. And that’s right. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that. We came to the end of the road. We couldn’t go any further if we wanted to go forward. But when we talk about politics, then it was a conflict between Paul and me, because he is right-wing (read “conservative”). The other two had nothing to do with that. George was completely immersed in religious mysticism, and as for Ringo… he never knew or understood anything anyway.
KM: Let’s return to the prosaic stuff. How are you doing today – financially? This is about the golden goose, of course!
JL: Believe it or not, I can tell you this: today we, by making records as individuals, when it all adds up… are actually making more than we ever earnt as the Beatles. Think of it: even Ringo’s records sell in their millions!
KM: I will say something about what others are talking about, but also what I also sensed in some unrelated conversations at Apple. The Beatles fell apart when Yoko appeared on the scene. Before that, you were talked about as one body with four heads, that is, four bodies and one head… Lennon’s.
JL: Yes, that is what was meant and in some way it was true.
KM: This other?
JL: Yes. You see, I don’t suffer from false modesty, but maybe from too much honesty… that’s what Yoko has just encouraged in me… which isn’t always healthy… but that’s how it was. Of course, it must have bothered Paul, it must have eaten away, God, it must bite. Whilst we were together, in order it went: me, then Paul, then George a little. Ringo never meant anything, but he’s such a great guy that he never got mad about it. He was always, so to speak, conscious of the limits of his abilities. However, if you think Yoko made us fight, you’re wrong: a woman cannot come between four adult men if they have some strong common interest. Besides, they also, as a matter of fact, had their wives, so that means nothing. We came to an artistic end as a band when we recorded our last double album. Later I broke up with Paul because he is right-wing (read “conservative”). There, so it was that simple!
Perhaps the most valuable thing was that we helped the young people to become mentally free so that they stop thinking in the patterns that tradition has wound them up in. – John Lennon
In July 1985 the interviewer Konstantin Milles was interviewed by Denis Kuljiš in Studio magazine:-
DK: Surely your most famous interview was with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
KM: I had two interviews with them. The first was when I found out through some fellow journalists in London that Lennon was travelling to Amsterdam with his wife. I was just about to buy a Burberry coat, but instead, I spent that money on a plane ticket and went to the Netherlands. I was asked for a visa at the airport there, but I didn’t have one. They took me to a supervisor who was a civilized native of Papua, very kind, who allowed me to stay. I found Lennon in a hotel, through his press manager, who allowed me to stay for ten minutes and talk about the act of lying in bed by which John Lennon and Yoko Ono were protesting for world peace… However, I stayed for three hours. I somehow managed to get a very good vibe from him, he was a very bright, and actually very handsome man. When I told him he was a pantheist, he didn’t hesitate at all to ask what that was. Yoko Ono was lying in her nightgown, and he was in his pyjamas, we were talking, whilst the head of the press kept winking at me to go out… Then Lennon threw him out of the room.
DK: When did you have the next interview?
KM: The Beatles had just split up, and Lennon had bought a house in Epson. In the beautiful ambiance, there was a white piano – Lennon played on it with one finger and sang to me. I intended to go and meet him in New York, for a third interview, but he was murdered in the meantime. He was pleased with our first conversation, he had said that it was one of the best he had given for a newspaper. I did send him a translation of the interview, it was about 40-50 pages long…
DK: Has everything been published?
KM: Only one part.
DK: Did you ever think of publishing a book of your interviews?
KM: Nobody made me an offer, and I didn’t want to. I’m quite lazy.
(Konstantin Milles died in 1989, he had no heirs because his son and daughter died before he did, both committing suicide. Konstantin’s widow died in 2017. Was his 1969 Amsterdam interview with John and Yoko published in VUS magazine – where are those interviews and tape recordings?)
On a lighter note, in 1969 John and Yoko posted 2 acorns to Yugoslavia’s President Tito (1 of 50 world leaders at the time) to be planted as part of their quest for world peace.
On 13th November 2020 the new City Museum of Rijeka opened in the newly renovated palace of the former sugar refinery. I have been involved in the translation of all the texts featured inside as well as the accompanying promotional material for the new museum since March 2020. This has been a massive task and I am extremely proud to be involved.
Here is a small selection of photographs of the interior, the new displays and exhibits that you can experience. The photographs do not do justice to the atmosphere inside. If you want to know more about the history of the city of Rijeka then I thoroughly recommend a visit to the museum.
Janko Polić Kamov – Poe An extract – translated by Martin Mayhew
Turgenjev brings tears to our eyes; Maupassant tickles our lips; Poe makes our hair stand on end: the first grabs us by the heartstrings, the second by the spirit, the third by the nerves.
Tears, a smile and a chill – those are their comments, and not erudition. Because erudition is just the comment of comments and one hair of a sensitive intellectual is more competent in the understanding of Poe, than all the dissertations of bald professors.
To me Poe appears like an ominous bird, which has flown over the mute field of our inner self; and when it plunged somewhere into space, it left a shadow of its great, black wings behind itself. Or even like the memory of a cat’s eyes in the dark; of a dog’s tucked under tail on a deserted road; of a snake’s tongue on a scorched cliff; of the ridge of a dolphin on an oily surface and of the shadows of the deceased that pull us by the legs in a dream.
And this is why Poe is mysterious – because of the fear irrational like all beauty and mysticism, living buried in the hands of our psyche, where in the glory of the Absurd they were also born.
Poe’s life was quite miserable so even a Croatian literate could envy him………
This is an extract from the full essay that Kamov wrote in Punat on the island of Krk, 7th April 1910. The full text is available in the book ‘The Curse’ – the collection of Kamov’s poems which he published in 1907 as ‘Psovka’, translated into English. ‘The Curse’ is available as a paperback from Modernist nakladništvo here. It is also available on Amazon and all other ebook channels.
BENEATH THE AEROPLANE (impressions – an extract) Translated by Martin Mayhew
Italy is flying: in Turin, Milan, Verona, Naples, Bologna and – on page three of the newspapers. Horse, automobile and cycling races (all of these are a daily occurrence, and the cycling one has been annoying the whole peninsula for a week, or two) are interesting, but they aren’t thrilling. The ground is dust, when it isn’t muddy, even if it is asphalted. Humanity, symbolised as a reptile, is now looking for a symbol in the bird, and the 20th century is beginning to spread its energies into the air, as the 19th had spread them on the ground and beneath it.
On seeing the first aeroplane, Blériot’s elegant, light and I would say slender monoplane, which passed over the top of my head with the racket of an automobile and the ease of a white bird with spread wings – I had the impression of simplicity, harmony and naïveté. And an impression of piousness. I did not flinch not even for an instant: it would fall on my head; as I believed, when it rushed past, white, on the green grass, to take off. Faith is great, because it is young, as in those who were watching the Assumption, as the old painters particularly the mighty Titian show us. Even the scene is the same.
That man, dressed from head to foot like a diver who dives into space, gives the impression of a captain, of the greatest absolutist and a solitary autocrat on board and at sea. When he climbs into his aeroplane, the whole audience fixate their eyes on him, wondering: ‘Would we do it? Wouldn’t we? Is it the right time? Isn’t it?’ When this one man flies, everyone around flies. His ‘passion for space’, his craving now for height, for the caper, for speed, for the battle with the wind – the throng also senses it, in the eyes that are rising. And this throng of aristocrats to plebeians, of old men to little boys – is just a single child in front of the same wonder with the same emotion. And if the aeroplane cannot take off, the throng suffers just like the aviator; to us it seems: ‘we’re not able to fly – the machine has broken down and we are denied a joy’. And when the machine is damaged, everyone cries inside…………..
This is an extract from the full essay that Kamov wrote in Bologna, 31st May 1910. The full text is available in the book ‘The Curse’ – the collection of Kamov’s poems which he published in 1907 as ‘Psovka’, translated into English. ‘The Curse’ is available as a paperback from Modernist nakladništvo here. It is also available on Amazon and all other ebook channels.
This is a reproduction of my interview for Rijeka’s Novi List daily newspaper with Marinko Glavan published on 15.03.2020.
Životna želja! Prevesti Kamovljevu Isušenu kaljužu na engleski
Martin Mayhew, pisac, prevoditelj i novinar, Britanac je koji već 17 godina živi u Rijeci. U međuvremenu je stekao hrvatsko državljanstvo, a uz svakodnevne poslove prevođenja s hrvatskog na engleski te proofreadinga, posla u kojemu »dotjerava« već prevedene tekstove, bilo da je riječ o poslovnoj komunikaciji ili tekstovima pjesama domaćih bendova koji pjevaju na engleskom, kako bi bili posve u duhu engleskog jezika, započeo je s prevođenjem djela Janka Polić Kamova na engleski jezik. Već je preveo zbirku Kamovljevih pjesama Psovka, a velika mu je želja na engleski prevesti Isušenu kaljužu, vjerojatno najznačajnije djelo riječkog pisca, kako bi, ističe, ovaj čudesni roman predstavio čitateljskoj publici s engleskog govornog područja.
Da Hrvati sele u Veliku Britaniju
nije ni najmanje neuobičajeno, no suprotnih primjera, poput
njegovog, vrlo je malo, u stvari u čitavoj Hrvatskoj trajno živi svega šačica Britanaca pa
na pitanje kako je uopće došlo do toga da se iz Brightona
preseli u Rijeku, odgovara da je ispočetka sve bila čista slučajnost. U Rijeku i
na Kvarner prvi je put stigao prije točno dvadeset godina, radeći kao novinar turističku reportažu s
“Došao sam u zemlju o kojoj nisam
znao puno. Radio sam za jedan časopis, a naš urednik imao je ponude turističkih zajednica iz
gotovo cijelog svijeta da dođemo i pišemo reportaže o različitim destinacijama.
Tog dana, kada se odlučivalo tko će u Hrvatsku, nitko od
kolega novinara nije bio slobodan pa je urednik šetao po redakciji, pitajući „Tko želi ići u Hrvatsku?“.
Kako u tom trenutku nisam imao puno nekog drugog posla, rekao sam „OK, ja ću to napraviti“. lako
nisam imao pojma gdje idem niti što mogu očekivati. Kad sam rekao svojim prijateljima i
poznanicima da idem u Hrvatsku, bilo je svakakvih reakcija, poput one da uzmem
sa sobom pancirku, jer je tamo bio rat“, kaže Mayhew.
Po dolasku, proveo je tjedan dana putujući po Primorju
i otocima, s grupom od još pet turista i kako naglašava – fantastično se proveo.
„Na Cresu smo bili u Eko centru Beli, gdje zbrinjavaju ozlijeđene bjeloglave supove. Upoznao sam a zaljubio sam se ovu zemlju, i ovaj kraj. U iduće dvije godine promijenio sam posao, vratio sam se u tisak, kao menadžer za proizvodnju u velikoj tiskarskoj tvrtki, ali sam i još nekoliko puta posjetio Hrvatsku. Posao menadžera bio je vrlo stresan i jednom sam trenutku odlučio sve promijeniti, doslovce promijeniti svoj život. Odlučio sam preseliti se iz Brightona u Rijeku. Počeo sam učiti hrvatski i nakon godinu-dvije sam krenuo s prevođenjem i proofreadingom, tada uglavnom za lokalne ljude i tvrtke, ništa pretjerano znanstveno ili na razini prevođenja književnosti“, kaže Britanac.
Kroz godine provedene u Rijeku uspio
je stvoriti vlastitu nišu na tržištu, u kojoj se bavi isključivo prijevodima
s hrvatskog na engleski, ne i obrnuto, jer iako je, prema onome što smo čuli tijekom
razgovora, hrvatski jezik savladao vrlo dobro, kao izvorni govornik engleskog
jezika i pisac, smatra kako puno više može postići prevodeći hrvatske
tekstove na engleski.
„Najviše se, zapravo, bavim
takozvanim proofreadingom, provjerom ispravljanjem tekstova na engleskom koji
su pisali Hrvati, kako bi taj tekst bio posve, ne samo gramatički i
pravopisno ispravan, nego i u duhu engleskog jezika. Kroz sve ove
godine zapravo sam sam stvarao svoj današnji posao. Bio sam uporan, učio sam hrvatski
koji je za nas Engleze vrlo zahtjevan jezik. Sintaksa. gramatika, padeži,
rodovi, sve je vrlo drugačije. Hrvatski, po svom sudu, ne
.govorim baš najbolje, ali ga odlično razumijem, a to je najvažnije kada
je riječ o prijevodima
s hrvatskog na engleski“, kaže Mayhew.
Zaljubljen u Kamova
Posao mu je vrlo specifičan, posebno kada
je riječ o
proofreadingu. Radi se o, da tako kažemo, finom tuningu prijevoda s hrvatskog
na engleski, u čemu je već stekao popriličnu reputaciju
i broj klijenata.
„Dakle, ne govorimo o klasičnom prevođenju, nego o finim nijansama prevođenja. Ljudi mi pošalju tekst na engleskom i ono što ih zanima je zvuči li to zaista dobro. Zvuči li zaista onako kako bi to napisao ili rekao izvorni govornik. Na tom području surađujem I s nekim bendovima koji pjevaju na engleskom, poput Sarah & The Romans čije tekstove provjeravam. Stvorio sam mrežu poznanika i suradnika koji me dalje preporučuju drugim ljudima i tako to funkcionira“, kaže Mayhew.
Što se tiče prevođenja, „zaljubio“ se u Kamova. Do sad je preveo zbirku pjesama Psovka, a prijevod je objavio u vlastitom izdanju, specifičnom po tome što je uvez i grafički dizajn identičan izvornom, prvom izdanju Kamovljeve zbirke pjesama.
„Kad sam prvi put čitao Kamova, za mene je to bilo otkriće. Bio sam oduševljen. Krenuo sam u prevođenje njegove poezije, trudeći sa da to bude zaista najbolji mogući prijevod. Čitajući njegova djela i prevodeći ih, odlučio sam napraviti i cijeli rječnik prijevoda njegovih izraza na engleski, što mi je pomoglo u daljnjem prevođenju, a na taj sam način i bolje upoznao hrvatski jezik, jer je on u svom pisanju koristio izraze i arhaična glagolska vremena kakva se u suvremenom hrvatskom više ne koriste. Želja mi je da napravim kvalitetan prijevod Isušene kaljuže na engleski i tražim izdavača koji bi bio spreman u tome sudjelovati. Riječ je o vrhunskom književnom djelu koje zaslužuje biti prevedeno na engleski kako bi došlo do šireg kruga čitatelja u svijetu. 1tažio sam potporu hrvatskog Ministarstva kulture, kao i britanske ambasade, ali potpora je uvjetovana nalaženjem izdavača Vjerujem da ću uspjeti naći izdavača zainteresiranog za ovaj projekt“, kaže Mayhew.
Kao novinar proputovao je većinu europskih
zemalja, ali kaže kako mu nigdje nije bilo tako lijepo, niti je igdje bilo tako
mirno kao u Hrvatskoj, posebno u Rijeci i okolici, iako nije riječ o turističkom gradu.
Rijeku je, ističe, izabrao zato jer je cijeli život
živio kraj mora, iako je Brighton po pitanju turizma, kao jedno od
najpopularnijih odredišta u Engleskoj, posve suprotan Rijeci.
„Brighton je vrlo orijentiran na
turizam i vrlo popularan u Britaniji. Proputovao sam i dobar dio Hrvatske, ali
sam odlučio da mi dom
bude u Rijeci. Volim atmosferu ovog grada, volim, da tako kažem, onaj idealistički dio
socijalizma koji se zadržao u ovom gradu. Rijeka i Hrvatska su, osim toga, vrlo
sigurni. Možete se šetati sami, bilo kojim dijelom grada, u bilo koje doba noći, bez straha
da će vam se dogoditi nešto
loše. U nekim dijelovima Londona ili Brightona to nije moguće, ako šetate
sami u neko doba noći, postajete meta pljačkaša I sam sam
bio opljačkan na ulici u
svom rodnom gradu, Brightonu. Osim toga, ljudi u Velikoj Britaniji su
prestrašeni od terorističkih napada, a ovdje toga nema“, kaže
Rijeku je odabrao, što je i naglasio
u svom nedavno objavljenom tekstu, zbog sličnosti s Brightonom. U oba slučaja riječ je o lučkim gradovima,
otvorenima za ljude koji dolaze iz svih krajeva svijeta kroz dugi period
„U Rijeci sam upoznao mnogo ljudi, ali nikad se nisam susreo s predrasudama Ovo je, kao i Brighton, vrlo otvoren grad. Doduše, nisam živio nigdje drugdje u Hrvatskoj parni je teško reći je li Rijeka drugačija od ostatka zemlje, ali uspoređujem je s onim što najbolje poznajem, a to je Brighton, koji je također vrlo otvoren, u kojemu se ljudi iz bilo kojeg dijela zemlje ili svijeta osjećaju dobrodošlo. Mislim da je mentalitet Rijeke drugačiji nego ostatka Hrvatske, jer je riječ o luci i industrijskom gradu u koji su oduvijek dolazili brodovi, pomorci, radnici, poslovni ljudi iz raznih krajeva, različitih nacionalnosti, što je stvorilo drugačiji mentalitet. Brighton je turističko središte i također imamo ljude koji dolaze izraznih krajeva. U Brightonu, kao i u Rijeci, prevladava mišljenje kako je grad drugačiji Od ostatka zemlje. Primjerice, iz Brightona je jedini zastupnik zelenih u parlamentu, dok je u ostatku zemlje izbor samo između laburista i konzervativaca. Mislim i da ovdje u Rijeci ima puno prilika, ako želite nešto učiniti, možete. Bit će prepreka, prvenstveno administrativnih, na koje se zbilja teško naviknuti, ali prilika ima Inače, birokracija u Hrvatskoj je zaista problem. Upoznao sam mnoge strance koji su ovdje došli s namjerom da ulažu, ali kad su vidjeli s kolikom birokracijom i papirologijom su suočeni, na kraju su odustali od svojih namjera Na kraju radije kupe kuću ili apartman, nego pokreću biznis, što je velika šteta“, kaže riječki Britanac.
Rijeka je, ističe, drugačija od ostalih
hrvatskih krajeva uz obalu i po tome što nije turističko odredište,
barem ne u segmentu masovnog turizma. Isprva ga je čudilo što u gradu,
tijekom vrhunca turističke sezone, u srpnju i kolovozu, ne samo
da nema turista u velikom broju, nego ni Riječana.
„Pitao sam zašto ljudi
odlaze ljeti. što to Rijeka nema, a svi ostali gradovi uz obalu imaju. Ali s
vremenom sam zaključio da je možda i bolje tako. Je li to
dobro za Rijeku, ili loše, jer dolazi manje novca od turizma, ne znam. Nadam se
da će projekt Europske
prijestolnice kulture ipak dovesti više ljudi, iako je teško bilo što
prognozirati, s obzirom na epidemiju koronavirusa“, kaže Mayhew.
Kao prevoditelj i sam je uključen u projekt Rijeka EPK 2020. Do sad je preveo cjelokupan katalog svih događanja tijekom riječkog prijestolovanja europskom kulturom, u dva navrata, što je rezultiralo pozamašnim izdanjem na engleskom jeziku u kojemu su predstavljena sva događanja planirana tijekom ove godine.
„To je bio prilično velik posao. Prvo izdanje na engleskom bilo je otprilike upola kraće od drugog, a sada pripremam treće, koje će biti još opsežnije, kaže nam, pokazujući nam podeblju knjigu, katalog zbivanja Rijeka EPK.“
prijevodu dobro sam upoznat s programom događanja i zapravo sam zahvalan što sam imao
priliku u tome sudjelovati. To mi je i prilika da pokažem što radim, ali i da engleskim
medijima približim Rijeka EPK projekt. Do sad nisu pokazali neki golemi interes,
ali ipak ga ima. Imam i dalje kontakte u Engleskoj, u medijima, ali oni su
uglavnom zainteresirani za Dalmaciju ili Istru, kao najpopularnije turističke destinacije.
Ne znam zašto ova regija nije toliko prepoznata, iako je geografski savršeno smještena,
a ima i puno toga što vrijedi vidjeti i posjetiti. Možda biste vi meni to
trebali objasniti“, kaže Mayhew.
Uz Britansko, odlučio je uzeti i
hrvatsko državljanstvo, što je, smatra, bio ispravan potez, nakon Brexita, jer
ostaje građanin Europske
unije. Snažno se protivi izlasku Ujedinjenog Kraljevstva iz Europske unije, što
smatra potpuno pogrešnom politikom.
“Nisam siguran da su Britanci, glasajući o Brexitu,
sasvim razumjeli za što glasaju. Nevjerojatno je da su za Brexit glasali birači laburista.
Mislim da će Brexit naštetiti svima. Neki
dijelovi Velike Britanije izgubit će mnogo, posebno zbog izostanka
sufinanciranja projekata iz EU, poput Walesa, u kojemu je velik dio javnih
projekata bio sufinanciran europskim sredstvima. Škotska će, vrlo
vjerojatno, izglasati neovisnost od Ujedinjenog Kraljevstva, ne vidim kako se
to može spriječiti. Ali tu su i druge stvari, poput
razmjene studenata, razmjene znanja, kulture, mislim da će svi na kraju biti na
gubitku. Na primjer, čak i glazbenici iz Europe trebati će radnu vizu za nastup u
Engleskoj. Glazba je važan dio mog života, a posebno me vesele nastupi
britanskih izvođača u Hrvatskoj na koje redovito
odlazim, no s vizama, tko zna hoće li i koliko tih nastupa ubuduće biti, hoće li im biti
preskupo i prekomplicirano da nastupaju u Hrvatskoj. štete će nastati i po pitanju
slobode kretanja, studentske razmjene, znanosti, industrije, svega“, kaže
O životu i radu u Hrvatskoj i Rijeci kaže kako je drugačiji nego u Brightonu.
„Život u Engleskoj puno je skuplji.
Za stan koji ovdje plaćam tristo eura mjesečno u Brightonu
bih plaćao barem tisuću. Izlasci,
restorani i kafići ovdje su puno jeftiniji. Lako treba
uzeti u obzir i da su plaće u Engleskoj znatno veće. U Hrvatskoj
su plaće nedovoljne,
a to utječe na čitavu kulturu
življenja. Ovdje mladi ljudi ostaju živjeti s roditeljima znatno duže nego u
Engleskoj, na primjer, jer nemaju dovoljno sredstava da žive sami. To stvara
društva U Engleskoj, čim završiš školovanje, odlaziš od kuće i očekuje se da skrbiš
sam za sebe. To u Hrvatskoj ne vidim i nisam na to navikao, jer sam i sam
napustio roditeljski dom kad mi je bilo osamnaest“, kaže Mayhew.
Unatoč razlikama, kaže kako nema namjeru napuštati Hrvatsku. „Kada prestanem raditi i odem i mirovinu, mislim da ću ostati ovdje. Barem za sad, nemam namjeru seliti negdje drugdje. Ovdje sam si stvorio život, našao prijatelje, želim ostati u Rijeci“, zaključuje Mayhew.
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